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Ammon and Ammonites (Hebrew: עַמּוֹן, Modern ʻAmmon Tiberian ʻAmmôn ; "People", also referred to as the children of Ammon, Arabic: عمّونTransliteration: ʻAmmon) are names of an ancient kingdom and people who, according to the Old Testament and other sources[specify], occupied an area east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.[1][2] The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital. Milcom and Molech (perhaps one and the same) are named in the Bible as the gods of Ammon.[3]

In the Bible

According to the biblical account, Genesis 19:37-38, both Ammon and Moab were born of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Bible refers to both the Ammonites and Moabites as the "children of Lot". Throughout the Bible, the Ammonites and Israelites are portrayed as antagonists. During the Exodus, the Israelites were prohibited by the Ammonites from passing through their lands.[4] In the Book of Judges, the Ammonites work with Eglon, king of the Moabites against Israel. Attacks by the Ammonites on Israelite communities east of the Jordan were the impetus behind the unification of the tribes under Saul.[5]

According to both 1 Kings 14:21-31 and 2 Chronicles 12:13, Naamah was an Ammonite. She was the only wife of King Solomon to be mentioned, within the Tanakh, as having borne a child. She was the mother of his heir, Rehoboam.[6]

The Ammonites presented a serious problem to the Pharisees because many marriages with Ammonite (and Moabite) wives had taken place in the days of Nehemiah.[7] The legitimacy of David's claim to royalty was disputed on account of his descent from Ruth, the Moabite.

Relation to Assyria

Ammon maintained its independence from the Assyrian empire through tribute to the Assyrian king, at a time when nearby kingdoms were being raided or conquered.[8] Inscriptions describe the Ammonite king Baasha ben Ruhubi's army fighting alongside Ahab of Israel and Syrian allies against Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC, possibly as vassals of Hadadezer, the Aramaean king of Damascus. In 734 BC the Ammonite king Sanipu was a vassal of Tiglath-Pileser III, and Sanipu's successor Pudu-ilu held the same position under Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. An Assyrian tribute-list exists from this period, showing that Ammon paid one-fifth of Judah's tribute.[9]

Somewhat later, the Ammonite king Amminadab I was among the tributaries who suffered in the course of the great Arabian campaign of Assurbanipal. Other kings attested to in contemporary sources are Barakel (attested to in several contemporary seals) and Hissalel, the latter of whom reigned about 620 BCE. Hissalel is mentioned in an inscription on a bottle found at Tel Siran, Jordan along with his son, King Amminadab II, who reigned around 600 BCE.

In the Persian, Maccabbee, and Roman eras

Little mention is made of the Ammonites through the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. Their name appears, however, during the time of the Maccabees. The Ammonites, with some of the neighboring tribes, did their utmost to resist and check the revival of the Jewish power under Judas Maccabaeus.[10]

The last notice of the Ammonites is in Justin Martyr (second century) Dialogue with Trypho (§ 119), where it is affirmed that they were still a numerous people, concentrated in the south of Palestine.


The few Ammonite names that have been preserved also include Nahash and Hanun, both from the Bible. Their language is believed to be Semitic, closely related to Hebrew and Moabite. Ammonite may have incorporated certain Aramaic influences, including the use of ‘bd, instead of commoner Biblical Hebrew ‘śh, for "work". The only other notable difference with Biblical Hebrew is the sporadic retention of feminine singular -t (eg ’šħt "cistern", but ‘lyh "high (fem.)".)[11]


Like its sister-kingdom of Moab, Ammon was the source of numerous natural resources, including sandstone and limestone. It had a productive agricultural sector and occupied a vital place along the King's Highway, the ancient trade route connecting Egypt with Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia. As with the Edomites and Moabites, trade along this route gave them considerable revenue. Circa 950 BCE Ammon showed rising prosperity, due to agriculture and trade, and built a series of fortresses. Its capital was located in what is now the Citadel of Amman.[8]

See also


  1. MacDonald, Burton; Randall W. Younker (1999). Ancient Ammon. BRILL. p. 1. ISBN 9004107622, 9789004107625. 
  2. Levy, Tom; Øystein S. LaBianca and Randall W. Younker (1998). The archaeology of society in the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 399. ISBN 0826469965, 9780826469960. 
  3. 1 Kings 11:05,7,33; 2 Kings 23:13
  4. Deuteronomy 23:4
  5. 1 Samuel 11:1-15
  6. "The Jewish Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  7. Nehemiah 13:23
  8. 8.0 8.1 "The Old Testament Kingdoms of Jordan". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  9. See Schrader, K.A.T. pp. 141 et seq.; Delitzsch, Paradies, p. 294; Winckler, Geschichte Israels, p. 215.
  10. 1 Maccabees 5:6; cf. Josephus Jewish Antiquities xii. 8. 1.
  11. Cohen, D (ed) (1988). "Les Langues Chamito-semitiques". Les langues dans le monde ancien et modern, part 3. Paris: CNRS. Aufrecht, WE (1989). A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions. Lewiston: E. Mellen Press. ISBN 0889460892. 

External links

This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Ammon. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.